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TPG Week 28: Starting Late

| July 8, 2011 | 5 Comments

 

Hello, once again! This week, we have Jamie Fairlie, who brings us a tale of those that have been…

 

Augmented

Page 1 (6 panels)

 

PANEL 1

Wide shot of a block of tenement flats in an affluent inner city area (it was probably rough 20 years ago, but has since filled up with yuppies who want to live in the “real” city). It is still mid-afternoon and overcast. A van is parked at the corner. Two muscular men in black suits are standing outside the door of one of the ground floor flats. All the lamp posts have “Canivan for Mayor” and “Vote Strang” placards on them. These placards will appear throughout, and both have pictures of the respective candidates on them .The Van has “Vote Srtang” bumper sticker. There is a large area of blank wall, with no windows etc, next to the flat’s front door. (And my first question, as everyone knows, is “Where is the camera?” That’s an important piece of info. Other than that, this is okay. A little cluttered for my taste, but you’ve got the important parts in there.)

 

SFX: KNOCK KNOCK (Where is the knocking coming from?)

 

PANEL 2

Wide low shot of a messy living room. There are papers everywhere and one of the walls is covered in photos of a dead girl taken from various angles (Dead Girl. How do we know she’s dead? I’m hoping she’s important, otherwise it will be unnecessary stuff for the artist to draw.). There are 3 doors along one wall (So, these doors are on the opposite side, behind the guy, and NOT behind or to the immediate left or right of the camera, unseen. Got it. IF that’s what you’re going for. What say you, Jamie?). The front door is behind the camera. Harry “Old Man” Tanner is walking across the room carrying a mug of coffee. (What does his expression say?)

 

SFX: KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

 

HARRY: HOLD YOUR HORSES. I’M ON MY WAY. (By asking his expression, we now have a frame of reference for this line when we read it. It’ll color the inflection the reader gives.)

 

PANEL 3

Medium shot of Harry unlocking one of the many locks on his front door. (How many is many? What kind of locks? Or are you going to leave that up to the artist?)

 

SFX: KNOCK KNOCK

 

SFX:(lock) CHUCK (Put the notation for sound effect before the colon. That’s where it belongs.)

 

PANEL 4

Harry had opened the door. The men in black suits from panel 1 are on the other side. One of the men in black has just punched Harry in the face. He is falling backwards towards the camera, still holding his coffee mug so that it is in the foreground of the panel, with the coffee about to spill out. From this angle we can see that it has “40 years of service” written on it. (Where’s the camera? It makes for a better visual if you pull in, in profile, showing Harry getting punched in the face. Let the implication be that it is one of the guys from the car by the sleeve of the jacket being seen. This will bring the reader directly into the action, instead of pushing them back some.)

 

SFX: THUCK!

 

PANEL 5

Wide shot of Harry being bundled into the back of the van from panel one by the men in black suits. He has dropped his mug, which remains intact by the curb. In the background we can see Simon standing, looking on, but the guys in the suits seem not to notice him. (Whoa! HUGE jump in Border Time. What happened in the interim? And who’s the magically delicious Simon?)

 

Panel 6

Medium shot of Harry sitting in the back of the van, which is filled with cardboard boxes, and only lit by a small flame in the palm of Harry’s hand. (Another huge jump here, Jamie. Huge jump. If he’s awake, doesn’t he fight? And I’m hoping the flame is a superpower, because you don’t make any mention of the source of the flame itself.)

 

HARRY:(mutter) HURRUMPH! WHERE ARE THE POLICE WHEN YOU NEED THEM? (Again, move the note to be in front of the colon, not behind it.)

 

As a page, I’m not impressed. Too many big jumps in Border Time, and not enough dialogue. The actions aren’t enough to truly grab the reader. I’m hoping the next couple of pages does something to pull it out.

 

 

Page 2 (6 Panels)

 

PANEL 1

High wide establishing shot of a convenience store sitting isolated in its own car park. It is autumn, mid-afternoon and slightly overcast. The doors of the store are closed, and the windows are blocked by displays, so there is no way to see what is happening inside. There are various, “Canivan for Mayor” and “Vote Strang” posters plastered on the front of the building. Two police cars are screeching to a halt in the car park leaving tire marks on the asphalt, along with a faint smoke.

 

SFX: SCKREEE!!

 

PANEL 2

Similar angle, but slightly closer. Two police officers have come out of each car and are crouching behind the doors for cover, pointing their guns at the store doors with their backs to us. Sgt. Diana Swanson and Sgt. Daniel Black are by the car to the right, Sgt. Blake Carter and Sgt. Clare Baker are by the one to the left. Daniel is holding a megaphone to his mouth, and still has his gun holstered. (This is placed well, but the previous panel should be a mirror of this, but pulled out. Have them already out and pointing their weapons. Move the dialogue up to panel 1. This way, you don’t have to worry about the awkward jump in Border Time.)

 

DANIEL(elec): THIS IS THE POLICE. COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS RAISED. (Ah! That’s what I’m talking about with the note for the dialogue. Okay, the next part is to give the police some enthusiasm. They’re sounding very laid back. Could someone get them some tea?)

 

PANEL 3

Medium shot of Diana still standing where she was in the last panel. From this angle we can see that she has a disgruntled expression.

 

DIANA: SCREW THIS. IT’S PROBABLY ANOTHER BLOODY FALSE ALARM.

 

PANEL 4

Wider shot of Diana running towards the store looking determined. We can see the other officers in the background, standing where they were, though Clare is now leaning out form behind the door. Blake looks confused, Clare looks angry and a little surprised. Daniel doesn’t seem to care. (No. You’re not going to be able to show all of them well. You’d have to put the camera against the wall of the store, facing in to the parking lot. The only way to get everything you want is to get the cars parked relatively close together.)

 

CLARE: WHAT THE…

 

PANEL 5

Medium shot from just inside the store of Diana kicking open the door, she is still holding her gun, but has it pointed at the ceiling. (Where’s the sound effect?)

 

PANEL 6

Close up of the end of a barrel of a revolver, which is pointing straight at the viewer. In the background of this panel the man with the revolver can almost be made out, but is out of focus. He is muscular and wearing a white t-shirt. His skin is bright red.

 

This is a better page. I’m interested. I’m just wondering what this has to do with the other page. This is what I call a fast cut. I’m not much of a fan of fast cuts. I suggest you start out with this page. It makes for a more compelling opening than what you have. Finish the scene, and then you can move on to the opening you started with.

 

 

Page 3 (1 Panel)

 

PANEL 1

Splash page. Wide shot of the interior of the store, from just behind and to the side of Diana who is standing inside the door. The store is laid out in a pretty standard way, with the cash desk to our left. There are two robbers, both male. The first one, who is standing in close to the door, is wearing ripped jeans and a white t-shirt, has bright red skin and is pointing the aforementioned revolver at Diana’s head. He is puling the revolver’s hammer back with his thumb. The other is standing behind the counter has normal skin and is holding the terrified store clerk by the neck with his left hand. He has no right hand as such, rather his arm has elongated into a sharp point. He is dressed similarly to the other perp. Both look like they mean business. The cash register is open, though you may not be able to see that from this angle. Diana is still pointing her gun upwards, and although we can’t see her face, her body language suggests a sudden and rather expected loss of confidence. (The only thing wrong with this splash is that it is placed wrong. It should be on an even page, in order to make more of an impact. If you move P2 to P1, this becomes the new P2, and then everything is right with the world.)

 

SFX(from revolver): CLICK

 

TITLE: Augmented…………………. Chapter 1: We Are All Human Beans

 

 

Page (4 panels)

 

PANEL 1

Similar angle to before, but we are slightly further back. Clare is jumping into,Diana throwing them both to the floor under a hail of gun fire from the perp with the gun. The perp with the gun is firing it at where Diana had been. The other perp has not moved, but now wears an expression of shock. (If we’re further back, we’re now outside the store. Not saying that you can’t get everything you want from this, but you’re going to need a strong artist.)

 

SFX(from revolver): BANG! BAGN! BANG! BANG!

 

PANEL 2

A medium shot of Clare upper-cutting the bright red perp on the chin. He is dropping his gun. She is moving at super speed in this panel, this could be shown with slight ghosting or motion blur, but I’m not fussy, so long as its obvious. (Nope. Let’s see… Rich Douek! Why doesn’t this work?)

 

SXF: THWACK

 

PANEL 3

A full shot of Clare vaulting over the counter towards the other perp. He has let go of the clerk, and has his sharp arm pointed more towards Clare now, but not all the way. She is still moving at super speed.

 

PANEL 4

Medium shot of Clare kneeing the perp with the pointy arm in the gonads. His cheeks and eyes are bulging out with pain. Both his hand and his sharp pointy arm are pointing downwards now. The pointy arm looks a bit more like a normal hand in this panel, as it is morphing into one. Again, she is moving at super speed.

 

PERP: OYATCH!

 

SFX: GLUTCH

 

Again, a better page than the first. You’re keeping my interest, but I’m wondering where the dialogue is. This is going to be a really fast read. No one except the cops have really said anything, which I find unusual.

 

 

Page 5 (5 Panels)

 

PANEL 1

Quite high wide shot of the interior of the store. The red perp is unconscious on the floor. The other perp writhes in pain behind the counter, the point arm now morphed totally back into a normal hand. Blake is standing in the door, having just arrived too late. Clare is facing Diana, who is just beginning to pick herself up off the floor. Clare’s expression and body language let us know that she is furious. (You’re calling for a really tall store, if you’re trying to get all of that in. It’s not going to happen. Focus more on the yelling. That’s where the action is.)

 

CLARE: WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT, DIANA?

 

CLARE: D’YOU EVER THINK THAT ANSWERING A DISTRESS CALL MIGHT BE A BIT DANGEROUS?

 

PANEL 2

Medium shot of Diana who is now standing and brushing herself off. looking ashamed, but also somewhat defensive.

 

DIANA: THAT WAS THE 5TH CALL WE’VE HAD FROM THIS STORE IN THE LAST MONTH. AND THE ONLY ONE THAT WAS GENUINE.

 

DIANA(mumble) UNLESS YOU COUNT THE TIME THE CLERK COULDN’T OPEN A PICKLE JAR. (Colon. That is all.)

 

Panel 3

Wide shot. Blake still stands at the door looking bewildered. The clerk is now looking more dazed than scared. Clare is still staring daggers at Diana. Daniel has now entered and is now calmly surveying the scene. Diana is in the foreground holstering her gun.

 

CLARE: I SWEAR, YOU’D NEVER HAVE MADE SERGEANT IF THE OLD MAN HADN’T TAKEN A LIKING TO YOU.

 

DANIEL: SO DIANA DIDN’T GET ANYONE KILLED THEN? (Comma. And you were doing so well!)

 

PANEL 4

Medium shot of Daniel and the unconscious red perp. He has his hands in his pocket and is poking the perp with his foot.

 

DANIEL: WHY IS IT THAT EVERY AUGMENT IN THE FRICKIN’ WORLD THINKS THEY’RE ALL POWERFUL, WHEN ALL THEY CAN DO IS “BE RED”, OR SOME CRAP LIKE THAT?

 

PANEL 5

Medium shot of Daniel and Diana. Daniel is looking towards Diana, and seems to find something funny. Diana is looking away from him and looks more grumpy than she did before.

 

DANIEL: KIND OF REMINDS ME OF SOMEONE, ACTUALLY.

 

That’s where I’m going to call it quits.

 

Let’s run it down.

 

Format: Nearly flawless. It just may be that you forgot. No worries.

 

Panel Descriptions: Sometimes a little wordy, but generally serviceable. Just keep a better eye out for what can and cannot be drawn.

 

Pacing: I’m going to say that your pacing is off. You have that fast cut right at the beginning, and that delayed everything else. Fix that, and you have a better opening sequence. Also, don’t take such big swipes at Border Time. Your readers will get a choppy feeling , thinking that they missed something.

 

Dialogue: There isn’t much here. Give the readers something to read. They’ll thank you for it.

 

Content: From a reader’s perspective, this is okay. You set up a minor mystery at the beginning, but that doesn’t do much to carry the reader. You’d do better with the action on P2. Editorially, you want to make sure that you start the story as late as possible, and cut down on the fast cuts (one page scenes). You have a perfect “late start” on P2, and that carried you for a full scene. If you stay interesting in the beginning, readers are much more likely to stay with you to the end.

 

And that’s all I’ve got this week. Check the calendar to see who’s up next!

 

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Category: The Proving Grounds

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

Comments (5)

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  1. Thanks Steven, all great points as always. I may well get rid of the first page, I put it in because the script originally came in at 19 pages because I kept cutting scenes down, and I wasn’t sure what to put in instead.

    I’ve not worked on this for a while because I wanted to get better at writing so I could do it justice, but I think I might go back to it soon

    “(Ah! That’s what I’m talking about with the note for the dialogue. Okay, the next part is to give the police some enthusiasm. They’re sounding very laid back. Could someone get them some tea?)”

    These are British police, so they might be more laid back than you’re used to. And of course they drink tea. Later on in the script the police act in a way that some people have thought was a bit odd, but its all based on my encounters with real police at various protests and things, but I might have to clean that stuff up a bit – fiction has to make more sense than reality after all.

    • Yeah, I got the sense these were British police (don’t ask me how), but they sounded REALLY laid back. Just something you may want to keep an eye out for.

      Thanks for submitting it! I appreciate it, Jamie!

  2. Rich Douek says:

    PANEL 2

    A medium shot of Clare upper-cutting the bright red perp on the chin. He is dropping his gun. She is moving at super speed in this panel, this could be shown with slight ghosting or motion blur, but I’m not fussy, so long as its obvious. (Nope. Let’s see… Rich Douek! Why doesn’t this work?)

    Hey Steven,
    Hope this is the kind of feedback you’re looking for… if I’m going too deep or not enough, let me know.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the panel per se, but I feel like we’re missing a beat or two before it, the absence of which makes it almost impossible for the panel to do the work that James wants it to do; show Clare using her super-speed power

    Based on the action panel 1, I’m expecting her to be picking herself up off the floor, taking cover, or at least giving some indication that she’s “activating” a power. It feels like too big of a jump from panel 1 to panel 2, just in terms of pacing and the flow of the action.

    Plot-wise, Clare having a power is actually a huge reveal, because it establishes not only her abilities, but also the idea that there are super-powered policemen; so, I feel like that reveal needs more attention. Right now, it just feels like its coming out of nowhere.

    The other thing is, it’s super-speed, but things like blurs or motion lines are used for emphasis in regular-speed fights quite often… so just having her land the punch probably isn’t the best way to depict that speed. You can get away with it for a known quantity like The Flash, or Quicksilver, but for an unknown character, this panel doesn’t make it clear that something unusual is going on.

    Anyway, that’s what I got. Hope its helpful!

    Rich

    • Thanks, Rich.

      The first part is EXACTLY what I was looking for. The first two paragraphs. We have a huge jump in Border Time, so that we’re missing out on key, dramatic elements.

      The rest of it… Good thoughts. I like them. I don’t think that it is much of a huge reveal, but that is my experience. If you have supers in the criminal category, it wouldn’t be that big of a reveal to have them in the cop category.

      Nice! Thanks for participating!

  3. “There are two robbers, both male. The first one, who is standing in close to the door, is wearing ripped jeans and a white t-shirt, has bright red skin and is pointing the aforementioned revolver at Diana’s head. He is puling the revolver’s hammer back with his thumb.”

    Nit-picking time.

    The great majority of revolvers today are double-action revolvers. That means that when the trigger is pulled, the hammer gets cocked, the cylinder moves the next bullet into position and then the hammer falls back, effectively firing the round. What we usually see in movies and on TV – the Dramatic Cocking of the Gun – is a long-lived trope that dates back to the old sigle-action revolvers and old-fashioned gun shows. Single-action revolvers required the user to pull back the hammer before pulling the trigger.

    In this scene, if the red robber’s intention is to ambush Diana, he’s actually calling attention to himself.

    Mind you, this has nothing to do with the craft of comic-scripting, but you know me: I can’t leave well enough alone! 😛

    Great story, James! I was really getting into it when Steven pulled the plug!

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